Saturday, June 30, 2007

Best Kept Secrets

I ate at a new restaurant today and it was quite possibly the best kept secret in Portland. I've been studying across the street from this place for a couple months now and always wondered about the beautiful people lounging across the street outside the yoga studio. Turns out the yoga studio and restaurant are attached. The people sitting outside are eating the most delicious, inexpensive and healthy food I've found at a restaurant to date and probably ever will.

What's the name, you ask? I'm sorry, that's classified. This is what I do - I'm apparently a secret keeper. Ree has told me that for years and I didn't believe her, but now I do. I want to keep this place all to myself, even though it probably wouldn't appeal to a great deal of people...okay, who am I kidding, the food is so good that even the people who aren't vegan would appreciate this treat. I'm going back tomorrow for another dessert ... and the next day ... and the next day. So much for being a Skinny Bitch.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

When Waiting Means Not-Doing

Sometimes if you wait for other people or for circumstances to be just right, it means that you end up missing out. I'm tired of missing out. With or without you, I'm starting.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Satisfaction comes from achievement, not indulgence.

Taking Things Personally

One of the Four Agreements is: Don't take things personally.

I'm struggling with this today and trying to remind myself that this is who I want to be - someone who doesn't take things personally. A couple of scenes:

At work, a task arose that no one wanted to do. Straws were drawn (literally) and C had to do said task. When I informed her, she was clearly annoyed. So instead of leaving early on my second to last day of clinic with a light heart, I've been feeling sick and worried over her anger ever since. I can think of lots of talking points that further justify her performance of that task, not the least of which is that the rest of us covered for her earlier in the week when she called in, but that's not the point. That's who I have been so far, not who I am becoming.

At home, found out that L's flight was delayed so she won't arrive until tomorrow. Had to change plans with A who seems to be making our plans a lower priority than I would like. E says I'm being too easy on him, too nice, and that he doesn't really understand how hurt I am. I don't quite know how to say, without sounding like a princess, that I need to be the priority with the possibility of plans changing with little notice and have nothing expected of me for the next for days.

Right now, I'm going to take a deep breath and let go of my guilt over C having to work at work. I'm sorry if that was a challenge for her and if she wants to talk about how that was handled, I would be willing to discuss it. Another deep breath and I'm going to let go of expecting things without spelling them out. Even if I sound like a princess, I'm going to spell it out for A so that he knows how important this weekend is to me. And for that matter, I'm going to take a lot of deep breaths all weekend long, because thought the weekend is VERY important to me and loaded with expectations (read: premeditated resentments? That's what I'm trying to avoid!), the universe is going to throw curves my way and there may be little I can do about it besides chose how I'm going to act (not react!). I am responsible for my own good time this weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Body (as) Art

I used to want to be a body builder. I love watching sporting competitions, especially those where people are utilizing their bodies in amazing ways, such as dancing and women's fitness competitions. I think it's amazing the things we can do with our bodies. I haven't given up my ideals of a stronger, healthier body, but I have decided that professional competition is not for me. Other forms of adornment and body art are for me, though.

In addition to make up, jewelry and interesting clothing, which I love though am sometimes lazy about, I love tattoos. When I grew up, the only tattoos I saw were seeped and faded women's names on the hairy arms of my dad's biker friends. Not so the tattoos of today. I've seen such amazing art work done on people's bodies and have heard such amazing stories about tattoos. I love asking people about their tattoos - there is always some story, some meaning, some myth behind the art. People are story-telling even before they open their mouths.

I got my first tattoo almost on a dare. I'd been talking about getting a tattoo ever since I got my eyebrow pierced. I LOVED getting my face pierced. Yes, it hurt, but it also felt good. And it looked good. I got my eyebrow pierced because a friend of mine was reviled by her family for her tongue piercing. In solidarity, I pierced my face - something I couldn't hide and that wasn't remotely sexual. I had no idea that it would be so addictive or so free-ing. Thinking of it now makes me want it back. It grew out and I probably won't do it again because of my profession, but I really loved it. Anyway, after that, I talked on and on about getting a tattoo until my friend got me a gift certificate for my birthday. I know she didn't believe I would go through with the piercing and I'm pretty sure she wondered if I would get the tattoo.

I thought and drew for months before a friend handed me the design for my tattoo. I'm embarrassed to admit that the design came from a clip-art file, but it's true. I was looking for a turtle, a stylized turtle. I'd long collected turtley things and had just cleared my collection of turtles from over 30 countries in favor of a less cluttered lifestyle, but my affection for this totemic spirit lingered and I tattooed him on my left shoulder to ride with me and whisper guidance in my ear. There is a lot of symbolism associated with turtles - as the beginning of the earth, as mother energy, as slow and steady, as safety, as fierce warriors - and this all appealed to me. My turtle is currently all black, though people say he looks a little greenish now with age, and he seems to be trying to walk as he is raised from the skin. I've considered recently adding some color and more dots (aboriginal art style) to address our mutual evolution, but am carefully considering theme as I want the entire composition to fit as I continue this lifelong art show. I have long been planning on having the rainbow serpent added either on my leg, back or belly, so I would like the turtle and serpent not to be duplicates, either.

The next tattoo I got after my father passed away. It's kanji, a Chinese/Japanese character, which reads: Dao. Dao means the way or the path. My father died suddenly in a work related accident and his loss devastated my family. I needed a reminder of my place in this world. I needed an anchor. I've considered expanding this one character into two lines, a couplet, a traditional style of Chinese poetry, on both forearms, but haven't stopped getting meaning and inspiration from the single character yet.

The next tattoos: still in planning stages, but am hoping to put a tiger lily and a monarch butterfly on my hip and side. My mother's favorite flower is the tiger lily and the butterfly has come to be a representative of my father. We released butterflies at his burial and my mom often has butterfly visitors when she's feeling down. My friends say I should have a little bee buzzing around too. Guess we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Broken Heart

I read the following piece at my lineage ceremony this weekend. It is an excerpt from Renescence by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I came to my school with an injured heart and joined my program after my heart was broken, split wide in two. It seems that if you have love in your life, the people who love you can hold the sky at bay for a short time if your heart is unable to act on its own accord. Also, that a broken heart is the natural result of trying to thwart the will of the universe - your heart naturally divides when you force yourself along a contrary path - one part stays with you and the other travels along your destined path. I am grateful to my instructors for nurturing my heart and soul such that I am able to make right decisions along my path without the experience of a broken heart.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, -
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther apart on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat - the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Arbitrary Requirements

Graduation is looming. Only slightly less scary than before since I was offered a residency position last week. I've made arrangements to leave an hour early next Thursday to pick up my mom at the airport and I've gotten a substitute so I can take Friday off to spend time with her. Then I second guessed myself and accepted another shift for Friday - same time, same clinic, different supervising physician. Seems silly, but I really don't want to go back to clinic as a student after graduation.

It's CYA time and I'm Santa-Clausing my list (that is, checking them twice and again) of requirements religiously. I was about to say that I don't know of any religion that requires piotous practice so frequently as I consult my lists, but then I remembered the five daily prayers of Islam and consider that they may actually have one up on me. The requirements for graduating from medical school are vast. Besides passing many exams that show that you know better than to make stupid decisions that will kill your patient, graduates from my program are required to:
  • Do 2 new patient intakes - easy!
  • perform 5 complete gynecologic exams - I don't know how people don't get this requirement done - it's practically all I did for the first year!
  • examine male genitalia twice - done
  • perform 2 digital rectal exams - whew, that was easier than expected
    perform 2 "male prostate exams" - I'm glad they didn't expect me to do female prostate exams!
  • do a complete physical on 5 patients - piece of cake
  • do a physical on 2 babies - fumbled through - don't ever trust me with your children!
  • do a physical on 1 elder - did I really never see a person over the age of 60?
  • 3 of each manipulation - cervical, thoracic, thorax/ribs, lumbar, sacral - check!
  • show competency applying electricity to patients using various devises - wow
  • etc. (I actually wanted to list them all, but there are so many! The remaining areas of requirements are minor surgery, homeopathy, nutrition and botanical medicine.)

I currently still have 11 of the above (although most of them fall under the etc. category) to complete. They do seem somewhat arbitrary, though. Why 5 gyn exams, but only 2 male genitalia? Is the female genitalia really that much more complicated?

The number of hours we are required to complete fall under the jurisdiction of the accreditation boards, but here's a look back at what I've completed in terms of recorded hours (my class time is not recorded - these are hours specified under our accreditation):

  • Community Service 24
  • Hydrotherapy Technician 73.5
  • Intro to Clinic 12
  • Clinic Education 15
  • Lab Practicum 24
  • Lab Post 12
  • Xray Post 24
  • ND Medicinary Practicum 24
  • Secondary 292
  • Primary 668
  • Chinese Medicine Observation 264.5
  • Chinese Medicine Internship 629 (projected)
  • Chinese Medicine Medicinary 24
  • Preceptorship (observing NDs, MDs, DCs etc) 232
  • Seminars 48 (attended more, but they only credit us 48)
  • Grand Rounds 120
  • Grand TOTAL: 2216

In all those hours, I will have seen a minimum of 1100 patients. Wow, I guess I really have done a lot in the last 7 years. It's funny to think I've done all that and still managed to write my blog during my clinic shifts. I am, in fact, on shift now, but since this clinic was flooded over the weekend, we don't have many patients today and I'm leaving momentarily for the final show of strength as I win the wrestling match with the thesis. Prepare to see my fist raised as I defend my title on Tuesday afternoon. Revisions Wednesday and Thursday then turn it in on Friday for a guilt-free graduation on Monday. Oh yes, graduation is looming.

Monday, June 11, 2007

You've GOT to Respect YOURSELF

A young woman was sitting with her boyfriend at an employment service center. They were mouthing off to one another with copious use of swears. I witness these types of scenes all the time and have never thought to say anything. It's really none of my business and I'm not the type to jump into confrontational situations, even with those I feel safe with (apparently, I'll do really well in China, since the Chinese abhor confrontation), let alone some unpredictable strangers.

My friend RC didn't leave it alone, though. RC is about 60, but doesn't look a day over 40 and is a devout Christian. She's at church probably more than once a week and carries the spirit with her every day. She wasn't angry at these two young people for swearing and carrying on, though, she was concerned. She went right over to that young woman and told her "I know your mother raised you better than that" and on and on, ending with "You've got to respect yourself." It was really touching and I think about that a lot.

You've got to respect yourself. Swearing out in public is not only offensive, but may also be the only indicator on which a person can base their opinion of you. It's our verbal appearance. E and I noticed today that we've been swearing a lot. I tried to cease swearing for one day and whenever I think about it, the swears come out unconsciously. I'm almost certain there are days that I don't swear, but these are probably days I don't speak much at all.

I made a goal a while ago to clear my closet of clothes that I can't wear in public. Not only the ripped and stained, but also the too trashy that I wouldn't want my patients to see me wearing. I'm also going to really work on the swears - maybe replace them with prayers. Instead of swearing at the driver going so incredibly slow in front of me, I'll pray for them to reach their destination safely and give thanks for clear and open roads.

At any rate, I'm thinking about what it means to respect myself and how I express that in the world. I'm also thinking about "fake it til you make it" and how we become the person we show the world we are - for example, if I show the world that I am a person who doesn't swear (much), I will become that person. We grow through practice of the manners and mannerisms we want to have. Please remind me that just because I haven't been ___ doesn't mean I can't be - it just takes practice.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Conflict Creates Contact

Errr...bad Internet connections drive me crazy. I suppose this isn't like an email. I shouldn't just change the entire nature and content of my post just because I lost what I'd written due to a bad public Internet connection, but that is exactly what I'm going to do.

The basic gist of what I was going to write was the conflict creates/is contact and that has value, even though it's difficult for me. I hate conflict, contradiction and confrontation. And I could learn a lot from my dog. If someone sniffs his rear end a little too closely, he growls or nips them, but they can still play together within moments. Conflict doesn't have to be the end of a relationship.

That was the gist of my previous post condensed. Now I really want to say how sexy I feel in these shoes. They're really high heeled and strappy and I've noticed several people checking them out at the cafe where I'm writing. I painted my nails bright pink right today and am wearing a black knit skirt with excellent flare, so everything looks smashing. There's something extra sexy about having had the cobbler repair my shoes this week so that I can continue wearing them despite their previous flaws. I need to remember how good this feels and wear great shoes more often. And despite their height, they aren't even as uncomfortable as the flat shoes I wore to work today.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

IPod People

I've started commuting by train. So much for biking to school 5x spring term (per my 101 goals), but as they say, you learn something even in not meeting goals. My friend said I should make my goals more general, so that I could bike to school 5x this summer when I have more time, but that wasn't the point. I did learn that I'm probably not a bike commuter - it's just not a high priority for me, although I do enjoy recreational biking and running errands on my bike. (Please note that I haven't completely given up hope as there are still 7 days left that I have to go to school and I consider riding my bike to the train to count - there's creative math for you.)

On the train, though, I've noticed a disturbing phenomenon: The IPod People. As I listen to my MP3 player (sadly not an IPod, but a perfectly serviceable SanDisc) on the train too, I don't mean to criticize. But I find it disturbing that we're looking away to avoid one anothers' eyes, reading or pretending to so as not to notice the father who really needs a seat for himself and his child and we're listening to our tunes so intently that we fail to hear when a friendly voice says "hello."

As we file up and down the stairs on the way to the train with plugs in our ears and the sounds of ____ filling us with joy/grief/beats/memories/peace, who are we? Who is the handsome big blond man in khakis and a blue shirt that brings out his uncovered eyes? Who is the young harelipped man in a trendy shirt and new sneakers? Who is the black guy with the afro, huge glasses and great belt? Who is the young woman dressed all in black peering out at them from behind sunglasses that cover half her face? And more importantly, what are they listening to?

If we don't speak to one another, can we separate our identities from our appearance?

My friend told me recently that she never thinks of me as someone who wears only black, but I can count the number of days this week that I've worn another color. Okay, I wore other colors everyday - I wore a suit of pale linen to class on Tuesday before putting on my black uniform, I wore pink underwear on Wednesday and I'm wearing an olive green tank top under my black shirt today. I'm glad she doesn't think of me that way, because I'm not making a statement, protesting or even grieving by wearing black. I just like it. I like the neutral feeling and I like the fact that it all goes together without question. In pondering the black clothing issue, it's almost like I use the black as the backdrop so that my personality can be the part that shines, the part that's interesting. Almost, because I never really gave it that much thought or planning. Good thing my earbuds are black, too.

Friday, June 8, 2007

On Being Interesting

I have an interesting name. Does that make me interesting? I get a lot of comments and compliments about my name. What does it mean? Were your parents Persian? Were your parents hippies? Is that your real name? It's so beautiful.

What can I say about this? Perfect strangers are not entitled to the painful and tragic history that led to my rebirth and rechristening as B___. Nor do they deserve outright lies. My parents were probably hippies since they were teens in the 60's, so I say "No, they aren't Persian, but they probably were hippies." My French last name also draws queries, but it's simple enough to admit that I come from "mutt" blood as a mixture of Prussian, Irish, English, Native American and African American. My aunt swears by the African, my mother prays by the Native and my grandmother denies them both, so who's to say that there wasn't a little Frenchie thrown in somewhere?

At any rate, I didn't start intending to portray my entire genealogy, but rather my dismay at being interesting. It's become a strange sort of ritual in my life that after I introduce myself, I am automatically ready to say "Thank you, I like it, too. It's Persian. No, I'm not." It's almost become my long introduction, such as those given in the south when debs are given (in)to society.

My name is not the only thing publicly but inanely interesting - I also wear vintage glasses admired by all. "Yes, they are prescription. Yes, they are old. I got them at ___." Be careful trying on vintage glasses - wear them around the shop for at least 20 minutes. I bought two lovely pair at once and can only wear one set because the others are too heavy. Although vintage glasses are sized, so once you find a pair you like the fit of, you can easily weed through a stack looking for the same size. My eyeglass size is 5 1/2. My shoes are 38 European or 8 American. My dresses are 12-14 and my earrings are preferably huge.

But I didn't start this post intending to give tips on buying vintage or to elucidate the size of all my body parts. It's about being interesting. I think being interesting is just like being invisible. My invisible friend V once threw a fit in class and flipped everyone off, double handed, while cursing them all vocally. Neither the instructor or any of our 10 classmates noticed. Only I and the person on the other side of her noticed. Not seeing her is their loss because she's really an admirable, gifted and kind person. I wish I could see more of her.

Having these interesting things for people to latch onto, they become you, you become them. I am my interesting name and my funky glasses. And to some, little else, but I know better. I know the really interesting things come at night when I wake up in the middle of the night, when I dream big - win, lose or draw, when I dance, when I sing or when I cry. I just hope to recognize those things that are really interesting in you.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Personality vs. Temperament

Words of the Day:

  • Personality: set of qualities that makes a person, a group of people, or a thing different from others (see also Nature: the set of qualities that makes a person, a group of people, or a thing different from others)
  • Temperament: one's characteristic attitude or mood

How changeable are these? I think and hope they are very changeable and I'm setting out right now to change my temperament. I tend to have a judgmental, defensive attitude and a negative mood, but I'm going to turn that frown upside down and become more positive, starting now. Since people seem to like my personality, I'm going to leave that be for now, because I think this temperament thing is going to be challenging.

Oh yeah, if you don't agree that my temperament is as described, that's just because I have such a glittering personality. ;)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What's in a Name?

I changed my name 4 years ago after getting sick and having my life unalterably changed. I picked my new first name off the cover of a book I got at church. The author wrote about prosperity and ease, both of which I long(ed) for and I admired his message and his method. I took his name for my own. People who learn that I adopted this name look at my cross-eyed when I tell them my name was ___. You don't look like a ___. No, I don't. Not anymore.

My middle name used to be my mom's first name. I actually really liked that name and I'm not sure why I changed it except that I really liked the first letter of my prior first name too. My middle name is simple my initials, spelled out. Middle names often seem to be the name of some family member or ancestor that you want to honor. I supposed it just as valid to honor the person who carried me around for 26 years as the one who carried me for 9 months, so I saved a piece of my old name in the middle.

My last name was the middle name of my girlhood friend. Someone I called sister for a long time for lack of a better label. Honoring our relationship, but also how her (now my) name rolled melodically with the new first name. It sounded good together.

A patient told me the other day that she was thinking of taking my name. I'm only 30 now and I feel too young to have people naming after me, but I think she just likes the sound. I suppose if music can be a religious experience, the music of a beautiful name can be as well. I certainly love the sound of people using my name. It's not the beauty or music, nor the Persian meanings I attach to the word of my name, nor the mystery of it, but the simple joy of being recognized as a unique and irreplaceable human being, different than who I used to be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bibliography vs. Reference List

Reference List: provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text. (From this site)

Bibliography: the works or a list of the works referred to in a text or consulted by the author in its production
(From Websters)

Struggling to know what to use for my thesis. Have several sources that I consulted, but not referring directly to all of them. In that case, do I do both and if so, does the bibliography include only those sources that are not on my reference list or do I repeat? Please comment if you have any thoughts on this topic.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Clap Out

I'm still on moratorium, but I'm just copying from an email I sent my traveling boyfriend, so this doesn't really count...right?

They do "clap out" on Wednesday this week. Clap out is a school tradition. During the very first day of class for the first year class, all the other students in school walk into their class and clap them in and let them know how happy we are that they are a part of our community - and every spring we clap out the graduating class.

I've cried for the past 3 years as the people I started and studied with have graduated through me and I can't believe I have my clap out coming on Wednesday. I've studied here for 7 years. When I first started I only wanted to do 4 years, but after I got cancer, I had to add another year to my program (I didn't take time off, but I had to lighten my load the first year after surgery and couldn't take some classes due to physical restrictions) and then I decided to do the Chinese program, adding another 2 years. Seven years of blood, sweat, tears, but also laughter, love and stronger community than I ever expected.

These people and this place have been have been a part of my life and are inseparable in my memories of losing my father (I found out about his accident at school) and my illness. I also remember being a part of significant parts of others lives at this school - marriages, divorces, innumerable births, my friend's miscarriage of twins, the death of an instructor's wife, losing a beloved instructor, the sudden death of a major figure in our profession and even the suicide of a classmate. A lifetime in seven years . Definitely a excited as I am to leave school, with all it's restrictions and protections, and start the next phase of my life, I recognize that I've got some grieving to go through because it'll never be the same again.